Was I really up to it? It was one thing to talk about a move to the country. But actually living there? That was another matter entirely. Spending significant time out on the wild frontier would require skills.
Skills I already knew I didn't have.
I was gutless when it came to the simplest of tasks, like killing a spider or setting up a mouse trap. I had never planted a garden, or even mowed a lawn! Where I came from, hobby horticulture was limited, the ground hard-spread with scrub and lined with palm, liberally decorated with rocks and interspersed with tropical foliage. Green lawns? Well, lawns that were green were generally something to feel guilty for. And produce, a thing of abundance, was in such a state of supply, toiling for more would have been counterproductive.
When my husband and I, newly relocated to the Kansas City area, decided to move our large herd to the untamed prairie for the welfare of the family and society at large, I knew it was a good idea. But I wondered if it would stretch me well beyond my comfort level. For starters, what would it be like to sleep in a place without the occasional hum of traffic or the glow of street lights shining in through the windows? What would it be like far from a last-minute grocery store or Starbuck's latte run? How would it feel to be so far out?
Would I feel trapped? Cut off from the world?
What if we had an emergency?
What if there were snakes? Or other predators lurking?
It would turn out the issues that would prove the greatest threat to our harmony were those I had never considered.
Reservations aside, I was keenly aware of the honor we'd been given to be the first people to build a home here, ever mindful of the miracle we'd received in obtaining this land. And voices from frontier days gone by, of settlers and pioneers, circuit-riding preachers and feathered Indian chiefs, men in uniform and women in buffalo hides, all echoed here. At times I felt the intruder, at others I felt the destined, especially when I recalled what my father had said about our Cherokee heritage, and way back in a small portion of my blood I felt reunited. In some small way, I had always been from the plains too.
So, I was an enchanted sentimentalist, convicted of the rightness of our adventure, even as I realized, of course, that I would have to invest a part of myself in it. That nothing in this life is free and there would be no likelihood of easy, no matter what we decided to do with our land.
What I did not realize, however, is that what I was straightforwardly willing to give was the physical, material part of me. The awareness of any mental and emotional expenditure hovered only peripherally, hanging on by a small, thin thread to the God whose hand held it.
And so began our journey. Something so painful and arduous and laughably ridiculous at times I was encouraged to blog about it. When I began writing about our misadventures nearly a decade ago, entertaining reading for others was great therapy for me, but something I ultimately gave up on when the demands of life on a small Kansas farm with eight children became altogether too much.
Now, after nearly 15 years in the country, I'm back to writing, blogging about it all, awaiting the release of my first book, MILK & HONEY LAND: A Story of Grief, Grace, and Goats in January 2019. The truth is something I've always known, that sometimes the only way to get through the daily struggle, the harsh reality of life here on the Great Plains, the searing pain of suffering and loss, is to write about it.
If not just for therapy but in order to recognize the meaningless of all things under the sun. Because it is indeed meaningless after all.
Unless you see the lessons, the messages within it all.
Until a glimpse of heaven from earth can be gleaned through the struggle, pointing the way home.